The Great Broccoli Incident

From The Crazy Lady Authors Cookbook, available now.

The story you are about to read is real. It is also mortifying. I can’t believe I am admitting my stupidity.

My ex-boyfriend and I had been together just short of a year when his birthday rolled around. Since I love to entertain and wanted to do something special for him, I decided to throw a dinner party with about a dozen of his friends. (Seriously, cooking for dozen people and pulling out the china is not a huge deal for me. It was almost like any other day–that is, until the broccoli summoned Satan.

I had spent the night before prepping. All that was left was the actual cooking and to decorate the cake. Easy peasy. I was even ahead of schedule until I decide to do something really stupid–take the broccoli out of the fridge. (I have a friend who will tell you that broccoli is the product of the anti-Christ. He is right.)

Had I simply steamed the broccoli, all would have been dandy. But no, I had some crazily exotic recipe that I had to try. So I got everything prepped and checked out the directions. Step one was to heat a frying pan with nothing in it. That is a huge no-no for cookware, but since I am constantly harassed for how I can never follow a recipe, I decided to play along. Once the pan was hot, I was directed to pour in a cup of oil. I remember thinking that was a ton of oil for a head of broccoli. Against my better judgment, I stood back and carefully poured in the oil. Can you guess where I am going with this?

Naturally, the oil splattered. Naturally, the splattering oil hit the burner. Naturally, the oil ignited. The flames spread into the pan and created a wall of fire. Since there was no lid within reach to smother the flames, I tried to do it with baking soda. My attempt was futile.

“How bad can this get?” I wondered. “It’s got to burn itself out. I’m sure I have time to grab a lid and … Holy crap! The paint is melting off of the cabinets, and the flames are up to the stove hood!”

There was only one thing left to do if I had a prayer of not burning down the complex.

“FIRE!!! Call 911!”

Over and over I screamed the mantra while running through my apartment and out the front door to where I knew there was a fire extinguisher. My neighbor ran out while dialing his cell phone. When I reached for the handle on the glass door on the case that held the extinguisher, I found it was pad locked.


Who the hell locks a fire extinguisher!

My neighbors and I won’t lose everything because the idiots who own this complex locked the fire extinguisher!

The Wonder Woman theme tinkled through my head. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my neighbor cringe when I rabbit punched the glass with the side of my fist. I grabbed the extinguisher and made for the kitchen while noting the blood and wondering how much my hand would hurt later. There was no time for concern over that because the paint on the cabinets was forming droplets and oozing down. I yanked the pin, pulled back the handle, and blew yellow powder across the room, thus saving the kitchen and sending the flames (and the broccoli) to a mono ammonium phosphate filled grave.

The fire department arrived and helped me air the place out. Even though the huge mess was covered in yellow powder and not blood, I felt like I was in a slasher movie. “Had you not acted as you did, we would be hosing this place down now,” a fireman said.

Yeah, that was one way of looking at it. I also would not have been in this mess if I had listened to my gut and not followed a recipe.

An EMT wrapped my battered hand. “You should get to the Emergency Room. Guess you are canceling that party.”

“Oh, hell no! I still have over four hours. This place will be aired out and spotless. I didn’t go through all this for nothing.”

The EMT politely chuckled. “There is no way you are decorating a cake with that hand. It’s gonna hurt like hell when your adrenaline wears off.”

“Then it better not wear off until the cake is done.”

A few hours later, the table was eloquently set, the cake had been (painfully) decorated, dinner was ready, and no one was the wiser as to what happened. My guests did not even believe the story about my bandaged hand until I pointed to the smoke residue on the ceiling and the melted paint in the kitchen. But here is the kicker: You would think my guests would be impressed that I pulled this off. Most of them were. But there is one heckler in every crowd, right? That night, there was certainly no exception. Now just imagine the death glare I gave my ex-boyfriend’s brother when he looked to my throbbing hand and asked, “Why didn’t you just kick the glass to break it?”

Moral #1: There are some situations where it is perfectly acceptable to say, “Bite me!”

Moral #2: Always keep a fire extinguisher accessible.

Moral #3: Always follow your culinary intuition.

Moral #4: Broccoli is the product of the anti-Christ.

Moral #5: Always wear shoes while cooking.

Moral #6: Listen to EMTs, else a year later you may find yourself pulling glass out of your hand.